Truckie jailed after fatal crash with cyclist on Nullarbor


Truckie Luke James Brooks, 39, has been sentenced to four years in jail after pleading guilty to dangerous driving occassioning death under the influence of drugs.

Cyclist Leif Justham, 21, died on April 6, 2021, after being hit 70km west of Caiguna on the Eyre Highway in WA by the truck Brooks was driving across the Nullarbor plain from Adelaide to Perth.

ABC News reports that both men were travelling in the same direction and Brooks was doing 100km/h, but failed to see the evironmental campaigner, who prosecutors said was clearly visible.

Brooks, who had been a driver for 12 years, later sent a text message to a colleague saying: “Bicycle rider in my lane, I didn’t notice him until the last minute. I swerved but still clipped him.”

The District Court heard the level of drugs in Brooks’ system – traces of methamphetamine, amphetamine and a drug to treat excessive sleepiness – had rendered him incapable of controlling his truck.

Judge Lisa Tovey described the 21-year-old as “a truly exceptional and remarkable young man” who had “touched the lives of so many” and inspired ordinary people to affect change.

Judge Tovey said no sentence she imposed could measure the value of his life or the loss and grief that had been caused to his family, friends, and the wider community.

“This matter was a tragedy on so many levels. It was a tragedy that was avoidable,” the judge said.

Cyclist Leif Justham was killed when he was struck by a prime mover in WA last year.

But Judge Tovey said she had to impose a sentence that would send a message that such behaviour would be met with serious consequences.

She also accepted that Brooks was remorseful for what he had done.

He will have to serve two years before he can be released, and will also be disqualified for holding a driver’s licence for three years, to take effect from when he is released from prison.

Outside the court, Justham’s mother Helen Taylor told media that she hoped the case would lead to changes in the trucking industry.

“This story is bigger than just one driver, who did a lot of wrong things and will pay a price and sends a message to other people, but it is an industry that is not all bad but needs looking at,” said Taylor.

“Cyclists deserve to be safe on the road like every other user, like all of us, and we hope that this also starts conversations about compliance and enforcement of regulations within the industry and about promoting networks for cyclists to be out there and to be safe…”

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